Evaluating the potential synergistic benefit of a realignment brace on patients receiving exercise therapy for patellofemoral pain syndrome: a randomized clinical trial

Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2016 Jul;136(7):975-82. doi: 10.1007/s00402-016-2464-2. Epub 2016 May 5.


Background: It has been previously shown that exercise programs for patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) can be supported by medially directed taping. Evidence supporting the use of patellar braces is limited because previous studies have been low quality. The aim of this study is to compare the outcomes of patients with PFPS after treatment with a medially directed patellar realignment brace and supervised exercise.

Methods: In a prospective randomized multicenter trial, 156 patients with PFPS were included and randomly assigned to 6 weeks of supervised physiotherapy in combination with the patellar realignment brace, or supervised physiotherapy alone. Outcome measures were the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) subscales, numeric analog pain scores, and the Kujala score at baseline, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 1 year after the start of therapy. The patient's self-reported perception of recovery was also assessed at these points.

Results: Both treatment groups showed a significant improvement in all outcome measures over the study period. After 6 and 12 weeks of therapy, patients in the brace group had significantly higher KOOS sub-scale scores, a higher mean Kujala score, and less pain while climbing stairs or playing sports. After 54 weeks a group difference could be only detected for the KOOS ADL sub-scale.

Conclusion: The use of a medially directed realignment brace leads to better outcomes in patients with PFPS than exercise alone after 6 and 12 weeks of treatment. After 1 year of follow-up this positive effect diminished.

Keywords: Anterior knee pain; Chondromalacia patellae; Dynamic valgus; Functional malalignment; Patellar maltracking; Patellar orthosis; Patellar tape.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Braces*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patella
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome / therapy*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult